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This is the beginning of a new series of posts, posts about what we really eat. It is what it sounds like. This is the quick & dirty. The wholesome, the one pot. The clean out the fridge meals. The repetitive pesto meets whole grain but we don’t care because it’s so good meals. Because pistachio & purslane pesto isn’t just any pesto. This is put an egg on it supper. This is when it’s just us & whatever was at the market, and I’m tired and hungry. This series will happen about once a month and will include corners of our home, mundane vignettes from our life, and real meals from my table to you. This is what I actually eat. This is who we really are. Yes, I’m a baker & thrower of fêtes, but more often than not I’m girl in turban & overalls, barefoot standing on tables or basking in the glow of a computer screen whilst in the bathtub listening to Rachmaninoff. Or that Britney Spears song that I gather was written for a Smurf’s movie? You know, whatever.

This is me, late at night, writing to you, dear reader. I do not, despite appearances, subsist on waffle cakes & buttermilk biscuits alone. I rarely eat dessert unless I’m developing a recipe (ok, so that’s admittedly often) or it came in the form of a pint of ice cream from the drug store, and we eat, for the most part, vegetarian. Mostly because I’m cheap, and I’ve no interest in cheap meat. My usual dinner tactic is to take what I find in the market and apply one of the “blank slate” recipes or techniques in my arsenal, my cravings, and some pantry staples to it to create a light, seasonal meal of real, whole foods. Just an aside, but I think it’s extra important that crazy people eat well. I’m not joking. Nutrition is an amazing way to achieve mental clarity & peace, among a few other choice methods. Like meditation & yoga. And in my case the odd anti-epileptic mood stabilizer. Holistic like, you know.

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We were driving home from the grocery store.

I sleep more than a normal person now, I said. Not but a couple of weeks prior I’d only been sleeping ever two days instead of every one. I have awful sleep hygiene, it’s true.

You do sleep a lot. 

I have so much trouble falling asleep. But when I sleep, I sleep. I love to sleep. I guess it is a lot like being dead…

He laughed. You sound so sad. So forlorn.

I’m not, I said and meant it. It just seemed, for a moment, a shame to like that limbo. But my sleep isn’t much like death. Buildings explode; I fall to my knees & feel gravel digging in; alien ships darken the sky; and Stephen Colbert regularly falls in love with me. I even got high with Michael Ruhlman once in my dreams. Not, it isn’t really like being dead. Not that I would know much about that anyhow. I did read a few lines out of the Tibetan Book of the Dead recently. But that hardly makes me a qualified expert. And it doesn’t propose blackness anyhow, not from what I gathered . I heard if you’re afraid of dying, you should read that book. I’m not afraid of dying, but we had it on our shelf, so I looked at it anyway.

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I took a drag off his electronic cigarette (a habit I can’t quite seem to break, though it’s harmless to little more than my wallet) and turned onto Frasier, a road on the Northshore that runs by the river, past all the bridges & little shoppes, places to find locally wrought bijoux & or an excellent hot dog & fries with real Dutch Fritessaus. A couple stood at the end of the walking bridge as we drove past it, and they were both standing still, staring up at the sky. He did a double take.

I thought those people were statues. Or like invasion of the body snatchers. 

And so on and so on as we drove home like we drive home every day, up Forest or down Tremont St. I sip coffee or coconut water as I drive. I’m a consumer, an imbiber, a smoker, a sipper, a hair twirler, a knee tapper. I’ve always got something in hand. I sip, and twist the wheel of my car hard. The power steering seems shot, and it makes a strange groaning noise that I mostly ignore. I turn past a million little ghosts of all the lives I’ve lived here, from eating sticky buns at the Town & Country in patent leather Mary Janes to “smoking” candy cigarettes from the Mr. Zip, carving them into intricate shapes with my teeth, to walking to the coffee shop where I learned to smoke real cigarettes in my school uniform to the Walgreens where that same Town & Country restaurant once stood, where I now buy my fake cigarettes. And my cheap, secret ice cream. A whole life’s trajectory from sticky buns to electronic cigarettes in a three block span of space-time. Stories written on top of stories, tapes recorded over tapes. They bleed through. You can never really write over them.

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We work, he in his office & me in my “office” (the bed, the bath, the kitchen counter, the porch…). And then it’s time for dinner. I love to make risotto style farro these days. I haul some chicken stock out of the freezer, melt it in a pot, watch the oil shimmer, the shallots sizzle, and I stir. I’ve always loved to stir risotto. It seems like one of the few excuses in the world to do absolutely nothing. I am beholden to the risotto, to break it down, to make it creamy. I cannot step away. So I stir and breathe. At the very end, I put in a healthy amount of pesto. A handful of halved tomatoes, always lightly sea salted. A few extra gratings of Cumberland cheeseAnd then I fry a couple of eggs sunny side up. Water in jars. Afterwards we clear the dishes, usually work more and sometimes late into the night, but we always, always end each night in each others arms for a long moment in the dark before rolling off into our respective sleeping labyrinths beneath the ceiling fan.

 

For something sweet with your savory, hop over to The Vanilla Bean Blog for a peach & blackberry cobbler I made with a fistful of herbs in it and a sweet buttermilk biscuit topping.

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farro risotto + purslane pistachio pesto

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 2 large servings or 4 side servings

Feeling really tired & hungry? You don't have to make the farro risotto style. Feel free to just cook it the traditional way and just stir in the pesto. But I think the stirring is a meditative way to unwind after a long day, and it makes the texture something special.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup farro
  • 1 quart chicken stock (homemade or low sodium)
  • 1/2 cup pistachio purslane pesto (recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup small tomatoes, halved & lightly salted
  • 2 eggs, fried sunny side up or poached (optional)
  • freshly grated cheese for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil over medium until shimmering.
  2. Meanwhile heat chicken stock in a pot until barely simmering/steaming but not boiling. Keep hot.
  3. Add shallot to oil & sauté until fragrant & translucent without browning.
  4. Add farro to pot with shallots, stir to coat with oil, and cook for a few minutes to toast the farro.
  5. Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed.
  6. Adding a ladle of stock at a time cook farro, stirring constantly, until the farro is cooked an all the stock has been absorbed. The farro should be chewy but not crunchy or mushy.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in the pesto. Taste for salt and adjust if needed. I usually make my pesto pretty salty so I don't usually add more. Top with tomatoes, a few grates of cheese, a fried egg, and a few cracks of black pepper for good measure.

Notes

To make farro the regular way: bring 1 cup farro & 2 cups water to a boil in a pot with a pinch of salt. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes until the water is absorbed and the farro is nice and chewy.

http://localmilkblog.com/2013/08/farro-risotto-purslane-pistachio-pesto.html

 

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purslane pistachio pesto

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: about 1 cup

For one, this isn't so much a recipe as something I eyeball and make to taste, so consider this merely a guideline. It can either be made in a mortar & pestle (making it a real "pesto") or in a small food processor. I do it both ways depending on my mood and time. Like stirring the risotto, I find the physicality of grinding it soothing, and I like the rustic texture. But if you're not up for it or prefer a smoother texture, use a food processor.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 cup purslane, leaves (I included the stems if using a food processor)
  • small handful of basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated cheese (I use a local cheese called Cumberland. Of course you can always sub parm or any cheese of your choosing.)
  • freshly grated black pepper, to taste
  • splash of good olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sherry vinegar

Instructions

  1. If using a food processor (I use a mini), combine greens, garlic, and salt. Pulse to just combine. Add nuts and cheese and again pulse to just combine. Taste, add a bit more salt if needed and a few cracks of black pepper. Add the splash of oil & the vinegar and pulse again. Adjust to desired consistency using more oil if you like. I prefer it thick.
  2. If using a mortar & pestle, grind salt & garlic to a paste. Add in greens and grind to a paste, repeat after adding nuts, cheese, and pepper, and then again after adding oil and vinegar.
  3. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for up to three months.
http://localmilkblog.com/2013/08/farro-risotto-purslane-pistachio-pesto.html

 

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25 Responses to farro risotto + purslane pistachio pesto

  1. I love your writing. I am reading each post of yours and it’s a damn good writing. I am also excited about your new series. Pictures – amazing.

  2. Eleanor says:

    Simply beautiful.
    I had my first farro risotto over the winter and it beats arborio hands down.

  3. Rebekka says:

    I’m so happy you’re doing this series! These are my favorite sort of meals. And that last photo is so pretty it’s driving me crazy!!!

  4. Love this series + this post! Your posts are like short stories to me…so beautiful.

  5. Leyna says:

    Hi Beth, I discovered your blog reading another one of my morning rituals (The Vanilla Bean Blog). I am loving your posts. Reading your posts are like getting stuck into a good book. Really great writing. Also, I recognized you from MasterChef!!!!
    Thanks for sharing your beauty with us :)

  6. ariyele says:

    ms beth. i have not shaken the feeling of our need to be friends. real life friends in real life time. i read, and so shyly (and out character for me) do not comment. every best friend i’ve ever had began with this kind of shyness.

    i dreamt you! i hesitate to write the content here in such a public space. needless to say, i’ve freaked out many a person with this psychic nudging. i’m so sorry if it frightens. but please know, i can’t let this nudging go. there’s too much “me tooing” going on over here.

    i know you’re crazy biz (me too!) how can we close the tab on this friendship that wants to happen?

  7. Erin says:

    Just stumbled upon your blog and I am only sad I didn’t find it sooner. Exquisite writing, photography and recipes. I am inspired to keep coming back to this lovely space!

  8. phi says:

    I’ve been eating a lot of purslane in soups, tacos, and curries – so I’m glad you have some too!

  9. Impossibly beautiful, the lighting is just mesmerizing! The recipe also looks delicious!

  10. Sarah says:

    I’m thrilled you’re doing this series…I love to know the real scoop with the people/blogs I thoroughly enjoy following. Your photos are always outstanding…I come back often just to look at them. I love food photography and I adore how yours have such a moody feel to them.
    The meal looks delicious…the ingredients are on my market list. :)

    Sarah

  11. sarah says:

    Gorgeous. Always gorgeous: pictures, recipes, but your writing is my favorite.

  12. I too am not a vegetarian by each primarily veggie. I think anything with an egg on top is a good meal. Some of my favorites include: pizza with egg on top, left over Mexican food with egg on top, rice and kimchi with an egg on top.

  13. […] I love Local Milk’s recipes and food posts, this particular post about risotto captured my attention because she writes about so much more than risotto. Example: “A whole […]

  14. Thank goodness blogers have started sharing their everyday recipes! I really do not have time for a whole chicken and steak everyday.
    I love farro as risotto; I first try this when Nigella brought her new book out now I can not stop making it. Your photos are breath taking and I love the way you write. Inspirational.

  15. Ciara says:

    I love coming here – your blog is Real Sustenance. Beauty and Sustenance, two of my favourite things.

  16. This is exquisitely written – thank you for the stories that bleed through your recipes.

  17. Shelly says:

    I love this new series you are starting – it feels super personal and practical (and delicious – farro risotto!). Also, love the little glimpse of pictures into your house… those gems with the old books are so perfect!

  18. Kathryn says:

    I love seeing how people really eat and the peek that you give into your world here. Just lovely.

  19. adrienne says:

    i love your writing, your words, like butter candy rolling over my tongue, intoxicating and delicious….. you recipes aren’t bad either lol

  20. I just found you through Ruthie Lindsey. Love your posts – your writing is lyrical and really makes reading about food interesting. My husband grew up in Chattanooga too and I think I may have eaten at the Town & Country years ago (we’ve been together since we were 19/20, now we’re 40). Didn’t realize it was gone. Sad.

    This recipe sounds delicious, although we’ll have to forego the egg as my daughter is allergic (or maybe I can just make hers without).

    Love your blog, will be reading from now on!

  21. Can’t remember the Interwebs trail of breadcrumbs that led me here, but so glad to delve into your archives! Your words and photographs are so very beautiful—love how you weave in the everyday, the memories of days past, and those dark, moody pictures (moody in the best way!). Like everyone else, I’m also glad that you’re starting this series, as it’s really the only way I cook (chuck everything in!), so will be lovely to get some inspiration from you.

  22. all of a sudden the dahl my husband is making seems much less sexy!

    xo em

  23. Rikki says:

    This is beautiful. I truly hope you author a cookbook someday – I will be your first, or hope to, ya know, to be a dedicated fan with evidence of sorts.

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